Emotions ran high during a forum on immigration Thursday in Des Moines. The five members of a panel all agreed the nation’s immigration policies need fixed. Audience members also expressed frustration. The images of federal authorities rounding up illegal immigrants at the meatpacking plant in Postville remain fresh for Paula Martinez of Carlisle. She described the reaction of her 17-year-old son to television pictures of the raid.
Martinez said: "He asked me, ‘Mom, I thought we lived in a country that was free, a country of opportunities,’ and this is what I have to face?" Anger over the treatment of illegal immigrants during the federal raid of the Agriprocessors plant in Postville last month still simmered among panel members and many in the audience. Des Moines immigration lawyer James Benzoni blames government officials for staging a "made-for-TV event" in Postville.
"The problem is our federal government is the one that’s doing it. That’s where the sin is here, that’s where the offence is and that, my friends, is the crime. That the federal government is carrying out politically motivated terrorism against innocent people," Benzoni said. No one voiced support for the raids, although one audience member did say that he had hoped for a more balanced forum. The forum was organized by IowaPolitics-dot-com and will be broadcast on Mediacom cable channels in Iowa during the next two weekends.